Friends of New Germany

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Friends of New Germany
SuccessorGerman American Bund
FormationJuly 1933
FounderHeinz Spanknöbel
DissolvedDecember 1935
HeadquartersNew York City, United States

Friends of New Germany (FONG; German: Die Freunde des Neuen Deutschland,[1] FDND), sometimes called Friends of the New Germany, was an organization founded in the United States by German immigrants to support Nazism and the Third Reich.


Nazis outside of Germany made considerable efforts to establish an American counterpart organization. Recruiting commenced as early as 1924 with the formation of the Free Society of Teutonia.

In May 1933, the Deputy Führer, Rudolf Hess, gave German immigrant and German National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) member Heinz Spanknöbel authority to form an American Nazi organization.[2] The result was the creation of the Friends of New Germany in July 1933, although at least one newspaper article from April 1933 discusses their existence and also states that they held a lease which expired in May of that year, indicating that the group existed before the official date. An article from the time states that they were mostly German war veterans who supported the current republican government of Germany at the time of writing.[3] Colonel Edwin Emerson acted as a spokesman for the group in April of that year, but later denied this in December. Colonel Emerson claimed that he had no connection to the German government, despite also being a correspondent for no less than 36 German government-controlled papers.[4]

Assistance was given to its formation by the German consul in the City of New York.[2] The organization took over the membership of two older pro-Hitler organizations in the United States, the Free Society of Teutonia and Gau-USA.[5][6][7][1][8] The new entity was based in New York City, but had a strong presence in Chicago, Illinois.[2]

The Friends of New Germany was led by Spanknöbel and was openly pro-Hitler, and engaged in activities such as storming the German language newspaper New Yorker Staats-Zeitung with the demand that Nazi-sympathetic articles be published, the infiltration of other German-American organizations, and the use of propaganda to counter the boycott of businesses in the heavily German neighborhood of Yorkville, Manhattan.[9] Members wore a uniform, a white shirt and black trousers for men with a black hat festooned with a red symbol. Women members wore a white blouse and a black skirt.

In an internal battle for control of the Friends, Spanknöbel was soon ousted as leader, and in October 1933 he was deported because he had failed to register as a foreign agent. In December 1933, Spanknöbel's bodyguard, Walter Kauf, was sentenced to six months in jail in New Jersey on charges of carrying a concealed weapon.[2][10] The same month, the Friends's treasurer, Engelberg Roell, was jailed for one day for contempt of court after refusing to hand over the organization's membership to a federal grand jury investigating Nazi activities in the United States. Following his release, Roell agreed to cooperate with federal authorities.[11]

At the same time, Congressman Samuel Dickstein (D-NY) was Chairman of the Committee on Naturalization and Immigration, where he became aware of the substantial number of foreigners legally and illegally entering and residing in the country, and the growing anti-Semitism along with vast amounts of anti-Semitic literature being distributed in the country. This led him to investigate independently the activities of Nazis and other fascist groups. This led to the formation of the Special Committee on Un-American Activities Authorized to Investigate National Socialist Propaganda and Certain Other Propaganda Activities. Throughout the rest of 1934, the Committee conducted hearings, bringing before it most of the major figures in the US fascist movement.[12] Dickstein's investigation concluded that the Friends represented a branch of German dictator Adolf Hitler's NSDAP in America.[13][14]

The organization existed into the mid-1930s with a membership of between 5,000-10,000, consisting mostly of German citizens living in America and German emigrants who only recently had become citizens.[2] In December 1935, Rudolf Hess recalled the group's leaders to Germany and ordered all German citizens to leave the Friends of New Germany.[2] By March 1936, Friends of New Germany was dissolved and its membership transferred to the newly-formed German American Bund, the new name being chosen to emphasise the group's American credentials after press criticism that the organisation was unpatriotic.[15] The Bund was to consist only of American citizens of German descent.[16]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Rodriguez, Patrick (2019-12-02). "'True Americanism': The Rise of America's Nazis in the Great Depression". Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Colorado Boulder Libraries.


  1. ^ a b William, Chris. "The German American Bund: The Enemy Within". Military Trader/Vehicles. Retrieved 3 October 2021. Gau USA was a domestic offshoot of the German Nazi party and took orders from its superiors in the old Fatherland. Because of internal issues and a lack of adequate organization, Gau USA was ordered dissolved in 1933 when Hitler came to power. In April 1933, the Gau USA Detroit leader, Heinz Spanknobel, traveled to Germany and was granted permission to reorganize a new group in the US. The following July, he formed Die Freunde des Neuen Deutschland (FDND — The Friends of the New Germany). Many of the old Teutonia Club and Gau USA leaders were brought in to help run the new organization under the strict guidance of Spanknobel. However, due to poor management skills, overbearing direction, and political wrangling, Spanknobel left the US and was later replaced by Teutonia founder, Fritz Gissibl.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Jim Bredemus. "American Bund - The Failure of American Nazism: The German-American Bund's Attempt to Create an American "Fifth Column"". TRACES. Archived from the original on 18 May 2011. Retrieved 2 March 2011.
  3. ^ The Jewish Telegraph Agency, April 30th 1933.
  4. ^ The Jewish Telegraph Agency, December 3rd 1933
  5. ^ Diamond, Sander A. (1970). "The Years of Waiting: National Socialism in the United States, 1922–1933". American Jewish Historical Quarterly. 59 (3). Johns Hopkins University Press, American Jewish Historical Society: 265. JSTOR 23877858. In one swift move that was to have an enormous implication for the infant Nazi movement in America, Nieland over looked Teutonia and designated the New York City cell as a Department (Gau) of the NSDAP. By June, local units of the New York Gau were opened in Seattle, St. Louis, Milwaukee and Chicago. By September the American section of the NSDAP claimed over 1,500 members and even had a Women's Division in Chicago. Nieland's decision threw the Teutonia Group into a state of complete dismay. Not only had he dismissed Teutonia as the potential base on which Gau-USA could have been built but he also engendered a situation that caused Party members in the organization to withdraw since they wanted to be part of a "real" Nazi movement. (The official name of Nieland's organization was the Auslands Abteilung der Reichs Leitung der NSDAP. On the formation of a Women's Division, Application to Kameradschaft-USA, Martha Schnieder, Leiterin der Frauenschaft der Ortsgruppen Chicago, 1932 1935. RUckwanderer Materials, 3/140/177983; on the development of Gau-XJSA, cf. Alfred Erinn to Gauleitung Hamburg, Feb. 2, 1931. 3/147/185886.)
  6. ^ Nazi Party/Foreign Organization
  7. ^ de:NSDAP/AO
  8. ^ Smith, Arthur L. (October 2003). "Kurt Ludecke: The Man Who Knew Hitler". German Studies Review. 26 (3): 597–606. doi:10.2307/1432749. JSTOR 1432749. Retrieved 3 October 2021. Reichsschatzmeister to the Auslands - Abteilung der NSDAP[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ Hawkins, Richard A. (2010), "The internal politics of the Non-Sectarian Anti-Nazi League to Champion Human Rights, 1933–1939", Management & Organizational History, 5 (2): 251–78, doi:10.1177/1744935910361642, S2CID 145170586Hawkins, Richard A. (2010), "The internal politics of the Non-Sectarian Anti-Nazi League to Champion Human Rights, 1933–1939", Management & Organizational History, 5 (2): 251–278, doi:10.1177/1744935910361642, S2CID 145170586
  10. ^ "Kauf, Spanknoebel Aide, Gets Six-month Sentence". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 2015-03-20. Retrieved 2024-01-03.
  11. ^ "Night in Jail Chastens Defiant Nazi Witness Who Agrees to Testify". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 2015-03-20. Retrieved 2024-01-03.
  12. ^ Chip Berlet, Matthew Nemiroff Lyons (2000). Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort. Guilford Press. ISBN 978-1-57230-562-5.
  13. ^ Shaffer, Ryan (Spring 2010). "Long Island Nazis: A Local Synthesis of Transnational Politics". Vol. 21, no. 2. Journal of Long Island History. Retrieved 2010-11-19.
  14. ^ Investigation on un-American Propaganda Activities in the United States
  15. ^ Wolter, Erik V.; Masters, Robert J. (2004). Loyalty On Trial: One American's Battle With The FBI. New York: iUniverse. p. 65. ISBN 9780595327034.
  16. ^ Van Ells, Mark D. (August 2007). Americans for Hitler – The Bund. Vol. 3. pp. 44–49. Retrieved May 13, 2016. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)

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